Missing The Menstruation Amidst COVID-19, Pandemic

In order to count the menstruation, eliminate the gender-based violence, promotion of human rights, the disaggregated data has to indicate the menstruation at least

April 27, 2020, 11:44 a.m.

April 25, 2020, I have menstruation and I am under more than a month lockdown due to COVID-19 Pandemic. The WHO was confirmed that the COVID-19 is Pandemic just 45 days before? My menstruation commenced just about forty years back. This planet experienced the pandemic since 430 BC, Athens. The menstruation has the longest history of existence, about 4 billion years ago since Home Sapiens evolved in this planet that was the species of modern human beings or us. I am pretty sure that none of the people of this planet do disagree with the idea of menstruation is universe and this planet exists and moves forward due to the presence of menstruation.

With such a long history and essence, how does menstruation miss everywhere and for 365 days around the clock. Why are global intellectuals waiting for the destructive and prolonged protests for discharging bit and piece of freedoms for women? Or is it because of not like pandemics? Novel Corona virus contacts to everyone often targeted men. Meant men do not menstruate at all. I am wondering by thinking the look like situation if COVID-19 is seen more positive to only sole sex; women. As like creating the blue blood for menstrual blood, men might say something scarce or unreal as like pouring blue liquids for advertising the sanitary pads.

Aristotle defined menstruation as magical power around 300 BC at the same ages of Athens's pandemic. The pandemic keeps changing its course but the menstruation is remained same even today. The ignorance, silence and restrictions around menstruation also are same, with the variations of forms and severity from place to place. Furthermore, the dignity during menstruation or dignified menstruation is further yet to recognized by the global communityincluding WHO. As virtue of human being, each girl, woman or menstruator deserves the dignity during menstruation. It is a state of free from any forms of abuse, discrimination, violence associated with menstruation no matter where the menstruator lives or works. In other words, there should not be difference between 25 and 5 days in a month, throughout the clock of 365 days and her life because of menstruation.

The impact of pandemic to men and women differs. The difference would deeper, wider and complex depends on the living conditions like camps, refugee or migrant workers, conflict zones or traditional and poor societies or any unequal and unfavourable conditions. Earlier year, the WHO confirmed that about 70% female workforce (among 104 countries) in health.

The facts of women's roughly half of the planet occupation and she is everywhere either at COVID-19 laboratory or kitchen of hospital or home or refugee camp or migrant workforce or conflict or anywhere.The COVID-19 does not cease her physiological process regards to menstruation either women working in laboratory or patient at ICU or women under lockdown.

I have deep feeling that women are everywhere but she is nowhere even among claimed feminists or peace makers. For instance, the Secretary General Antonio Guterres stated that the fighting the novel Corona virus for all of humanity, with focus of the most affected people: women, older person, youth, low wages workers, small and medium enterprises, the informal sector and vulnerable groups. Sadly, there is no visible needs of menstruation in a way and the other round.

Likewise, about half century course of human right, the few concepts around menstruation evolved: the UNICEF and WHO called Menstrual Health Management in 2012, the UNSECO and Human Right Council, (Water and Sanitation unit)called Menstrual Hygiene Management in 2014 and Nepal government called Dignified Menstruation in 2017. Additionally, the role of menstrual stigma, taboo and restrictions on power constructions is not only discussed but also revealed the role for occurrence of various forms of violence against girls and women.

In these circumstances, why do the global community or policy makers do not see the specific needs of women by their eyes? Why they do expect some kinds of pressure, protest, anger, begging always. They created and supported institutions for the upliftment of the women's human right but when the time comes to uplift, they close their eyes no matter whether it is in peace talk or election or COVID-19. Didn't they lying themselves or playing the double standard role or do not acknowledge the presence of women yet. They oppressed the women as a whole in a way and the other round. It's not only late but also huge shame. Shame on you all.

Don't you agree yet?

Why did not the Chinese government consider as essential supplies for the menstrual products. Which scientist or economist calculating the price of physical, psychosocial pressure, impact of taking birth control pills or urinary tract infectionsof female frontline workers due to menstrual stigma at Wuhan, China, an epicenter for novel Corona Virus.

Likewise, WHO is missing to acknowledge the needs and urgency of menstruation while developing the varieties of guidelines or resource materials for COVID-19. The dialogue of dignified menstruation is more relevant ever than before amid COVID-19 to all category of populations as like before puberty, puberty, reproductive age, menopause. By considering the health definition (1948), the menstruation (2012), and recommendations for equity on health (2019). The WHO is seen as irresponsible and inconsistence towards menstruation and its impacts on the lives of girl, women and society as whole.

Followed by the WHO's confirmation of pandemic for novel Corona virus, the feminist and pro-human right organizations, networks, and individuals are releasing the petitions, statements through online for gender responsiveness for COVID-19. These documentsare just reiteration of the earlier documents, policies because these points do not visualize the specific actions directly what, where or how? The word of disaggregated data and gender-based violence are just coming through decades but not represent the need of menstruation and the role of menstruation in heighten the violence against girls, women and menstruators.

During COVID-19 response, the girls, women and menstruators are working as frontline workers or at refugee camps or migrant workers or disable or transgender to anyone under the lockdown characterized by quarantines at home or shelter, isolation, travel restrictions, social distancing, and curfews. In this condition, both maintain or revolt the stigma, taboo or restrictions is merely impossible thus the chances of increasing violence are high but not recognize at all. In addition, the menstruators are double victimization from the existing the stigma, taboo, restrictions during menstruation and the laws imposed by the governments for COVID-19, Pandemic response.

Again, the gender analysis is very common jargon but it does not provide a single clue to intervene the needs associated with menstruation.The entire focus of COVID-19 response fully directed as requirement of men's protection like Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) and other essentialsNot for the biological need; menstruation. It is observed that almost all global or nationalpress meets occupied by men and highlighted their needs,demands, and challenges. They seemed so serious for the death and infections from novel Corona virus and focused on medical supplies, equipment and explorations for it. The official relief package also comprised the items except menstrual products. For instance, Government of Nepal relief package for wage labor included30 Kgs rice, 3 Kgs pulse, 2 Kgs salt, 2 Liters cooking oil, 4 packed soap and 2 Kgs sugar.

The history of sexual and reproductive health is already more than 25 years, fourth international conference on Population and Development in 1994. Despite having huge scope, it merely talks about the menstruation and its complexity and multifaceted nature on the life of girls, women and society as a whole. The WHO's SRHR intervention package clearly showed the ignorance and silence around the need of menstruation (comprehensive sexuality education, counselling on modern contraceptives, Safe motherhood and neonatal health, safe abortion, HIV/STIs, SGBV, Reproductive cancers, infertility and sexual health and well-being). It is concluded that the menstruation is everywhere and menstruation is nowhere.

The majority of dedicated organizations for menstruation are responding COVID-19 through producing the masks, hand sanitizers and infographics, focused on hygiene or products. However, the hygiene and products do not guarantee of the dignity of girl, women and menstruators at all. As like China, due to stigma, taboos and restrictions around menstruation, either the demands of menstrual hygiene and products heard or incorporate in to the essential logistics of COVID-19 response or distribute properly to the needy people. For sustained supply of menstrual hygiene and products, incorporate in to the policies and plans, the breaking silence, bursts the myths, rumours and restrictions around menstruation, is urgent.

The half of the earth's population comprised of women and scattered as poor, rural, refugee, migrant worker, women in informal sector, disability, sexual minority, women at isolation, quarantine, conflict and so on. They are living with travel restrictions, limited spacious rooms or tents or quarantine or camps or abusive partners or strange people. The resources for living such as food, toilets, water, soap, hand sanitizers, menstrual products are limited or could be unfilled. It is concluded that the almost all discussion do not account the women who are living except as front liners. They also menstruate about 3000 days in life and about seven years of reproductive life. They also have so many issues with before puberty, puberty, menstrual age and menopause.

The instruments which supposed to stand for dignity, equality, respect have already been working for many decades such as 88 years for Human Right Declaration and WHO (1948), 40 years for Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (1979), 25 years for Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (1995), 20 years of Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000) but the accounting of women as human being is always missing specially the menstruation, the essence of human universe. The veil of silence around menstruation play as vicious cycle for sexism and gender inequality. The COVID-19 accelerate the gender-based violence globally such as 30 in France, 25 % Argentina, 35 % in Singapore (Silva, 2020).

Since 2014, menstruation gets more space in both development and non-development sector globally but the dedicated funds or programs yet to planned for achieve the 2030 agenda, no one leaving behind. The holistic approach of dignified menstruation could be the best tool to address all issues related with menstruation including SRHR, human right and empowerment. Because of talking about dignity during menstruation allow to discuss about the stigmas, taboo, restrictions during menstruation.

In order to count the menstruation, eliminate the gender-based violence, promotion of human rights, the dis-aggregated data has to indicate the menstruation at least.The dignified menstruation and gender analysis policies has to be in place instead of sole gender analysis that guarantee the revision of logistic plan or essential supplies for crisis. The SRHR elements also need to revise to include the dignified menstruation. The daily activities for response COVID-19 or any crisis have to incorporate the indicators of dignified menstruations or beyond the infrastructure, hygiene or products. For robust feeling of confidence, agency, fight back against gender-based violence, the mainstreaming of dignified menstruation in to national actions plan included empowerment, human right action's plans, is non-negotiable indeed. At last but not least, the claimed feminists, peace makers and their organizations have to transform at first for not missing out the menstruation amid COVID-19 and everywhere.

Radha Paudel.jpg

Radha Paudel

Paudel is an activist of Dignified Menstruation,Women in Politics, Peace Building,Gender Based Violence.

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